Excessive force is a form of police brutality.  A situation occurred in Indian River County when a man who had been previously treated for seizure activity was excessively subdued during a police officer encounter while experiencing a violent seizure with rage, in a hospital emergency room.  The man filed a law suit against Indian River Sheriff’s Office for severe emotional and physical harm based on the expectation that a law enforcement officer will use his professional training and consider a person’s physical, mental and emotional state during an encounter. Citizens need to identify types of police brutality, so they can distinguish between an arrest situation based on the law-breaking encounter and the use of force necessary for the situation at the time of arrest. If the situation escalated beyond the necessary force, then a complaint should be made to the proper police department’s internal affairs unit or professional standards department.

Police Departments Address Excessive Force.

Current officer training policies have addressed these complaints and activities by defining general guidelines for applying force, and they include measures to initially gain control by using verbal de-escalation where voluntary compliance is the desired outcome, and  secondary measures to only use the amount of force necessary to overcome and control a resistive person.

Officer Considerations When Applying Force include.

1.The type and severity of the incident or crime at issue,
2. The person posing an immediate threat to the officer or others,
3. The person’s physical resistance to an arrest or other lawful detention,
4. The person fleeing from an arrest or other lawful detention,

5. The person’s physical, mental and emotional state of being, 

6.The size, age, relative strength, skill-level, and physical condition (including injury or exhaustion) of the person and the officer,
7. The officer’s level of training and experience,
8. The number of persons and/or number of officers on the scene,
9. The duration of the incident, in relation to the physical resistance offered by the person,
10. The time available to an officer to decide to use response to resistance levels of control/force,
11. The person’s proximity or access to weapons,
12. Environmental factors and other demanding circumstances, and
13. The officer’s perceptions at the time the decision to use force was made.

The 2018 Florida Statutes Chapter 776 outlines the law on “Justifiable Use of Force” as it pertains to Police Officer activity in Section 776.05 whereby an officer is justified in the use of any force:

  1. Which he or she reasonably believes to be necessary to defend himself or herself or another from bodily harm while making the arrest;
  2. When necessarily committed in retaking felons who have escaped; or
  3. When necessarily committed in arresting felons fleeing from justice.

This subsection of the written law is not civil action for wrongful use of deadly force if it was necessary to make arrest, and proper warning was given and

(a) The officer reasonably believes that the fleeing felon poses a threat of death or serious physical harm to the officer or others; or

(b) The officer reasonably believes that the fleeing felon has committed a crime involving the infliction or threatened infliction of serious physical harm to another person.

Federal laws addressing police misconduct include criminal and civil statutes to cover officers’ action in State, county and local jurisdictions including prisons and jails.  The laws are to protect all people in the United States whether they are citizens or not.

There are other types of police brutality that occur daily in the United States including false arrest and wrongful imprisonment; wrongful search and seizure activity; sexual harassment; racial and gender discrimination; and general abuse against civilians.  Police brutality is an illegal and actionable offense to be remedied in the interest of those who have been negatively-affected by improper police action, due to misguided police officers overstepping legal boundaries of their “allowed use of force” as defined by individual State and local policy based in part, upon the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution.

Common Complaints of Police Brutality include.

  • Excessive Force – utilizing more physical force than necessary to subdue a criminal causing bodily harm or death.
  • False Arrest and Wrongful Imprisonment – unlawful restraint of a person’s freedom of movement by another acting in perceived accordance with the law.
  • Wrongful Search and Seizure Activity – protection from “unreasonable searches and seizures” notwithstanding probable cause enabling a search warrant.
  • Racial and Gender Discrimination – bias-based policing is the intentional practice by an individual law enforcement officer who incorporates prejudicial judgments based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, economic status, religious beliefs, or age that are inappropriately applied in the performance of his/her duties.

If you believe you are a victim of police brutality, talk to a Civil Rights legal professional who might be able to help you manage your damages.  Damages may include hospital/medical expenses; past and future permanent disability payments; emotional distress including depression and anxiety; loss of enjoyment of life; physical pain and suffering; and loss of love and companionship due to a death or serious injury caused by police brutality or excessive use of force.

 

Sources:

http://veronews.com/2018/02/22/sheriffs-deputy-accused-using-excessive-force-subduing-man-seizure/

http://www.flsenate.gov/Laws/Statutes/2018/776.05

https://www.justice.gov/crt/addressing-police-misconduct-laws-enforced-department-justice

https://www.usconstitution.net/xconst_Am4.html